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As first responders encounter more calls involving mental health, departments train in crisis intervention

Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 20:04:08-05

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — More and more law enforcement and first responders are participating in crisis intervention training to give officers more resources when responding to calls involving mental health.

  • About 30 people completed a 40-hour session on Crisis Intervention Training this week in Twin Falls.
  • The Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office and Twin Falls Police Department have collaborated on Crisis Intervention Training since 2015.
  • On the final day of training, trainees practiced their new skills in role-play scenarios featuring actors manifesting a variety of mental health symptoms.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Officers responding to a call find a woman and her sister.

This is a scenario, and these are actors.

"This 40-hour training is introductory to helping our officers and deputies understanding, and understand more about mental health," said Sgt. Ken Mencl.

Mencl is from the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office and told me that law enforcement regularly responds to calls where a person may be experiencing a mental health crisis, and directing those people to appropriate help is the most desirable outcome.

"As we look at trying to help those people that are in crisis, to look at it through a different lens, ground them into the hearing of the now, and temporarily pull them out of that crisis,” Mencl said. “So that we can get them to the resources and provide them with that greater help."

Crisis intervention training has been collaborative with the Twin Falls Police Department since 2015.

About 30 people participated in the training and came from several different agencies: members of the class include Twin Falls County deputies and police officers, as well as personnel from Cassia and Minidoka Sheriff's Departments, and Heyburn Police, to name a few.

Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury was there, he volunteered to help people practice the training they'd just received.

"I'm here to proctor members of our crisis intervention team training when they come through go to the role-play, and to make sure that they are doing go to the steps that they've been taught this past week when they're interacting with people that are in crisis," Kingsbury said.

It’s all about giving responders a chance to practice skills they've been learning all week.

"Talking is really the key, and once we start that conversation, then we want to empathize with that particular individually,” Kingsbury said. “We want to be able to work with them to figure out how we're going to solve whatever the issue is, at least momentarily."